Why Aren't Current Medicines an Effective Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease?

by Amylee Amos MS, RDN

Just recently, Alzheimer’s was back in the headlines with another failed drug. Biogen and its partner drug company announced that they were stopping Phase 3 trials of aducanumab, a drug that had been closely watched and highly anticipated to be the answer to the Alzheimer’s epidemic. Alzheimer’s drug development has the highest failure rate of any other disease, at 99.6%. That’s billions of dollars thrown into potential treatments that do nothing to slow the progress, reverse the symptoms, or even prevent the disease. The five drugs that have been approved for Alzheimer’s treatment do little to help the millions of people suffering from this disease. At best, they slow the progression of symptoms, and having watched a family member suffer and die from Alzheimer’s, you could certainly argue whether this is of any benefit at all.

Like so many other failed Alzheimer’s drugs, aducanumab worked by targeting and destroying beta amyloid- plaques that develop in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The Amyloid Hypothesis has long been the most accepted theory of Alzheimer’s disease development and has been the primary source of study by the scientific community. The problem with this theory is that it fails to identify the reason the amyloid is there in the first place. This is like trying desperately to mop up the water from an overflowing sink without turning off the faucet. It does not address the source of the problem.

Recent research demonstrates that amyloid is an antimicrobial peptide, meaning that it is playing a protective role in the brain. What was believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease, and what certainly contributes to its pathology, is present for a reason. It is protecting the brain and so removing it, which so many drugs have tried to do, will never cure this disease. While a drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease is desperately needed, it should be used in conjunction with a therapeutic program of nutrition and lifestyle interventions that address the root cause of the disease.

In this video clip, Dale Bredesen MD explains why our current medications are not effective for treating Alzheimer’s disease. He talks about how the approach to medicine has changed since he entered the field. Specifically, he talks about the fact that 20th Century medicine asks the what- what is the disease? what is it called? what is the diagnosis? and that 21st Century medicine asks the why- why is the disease occurring in the first place? He goes on to explain that much of our chronic illness stems from nutritional insufficiencies. The drugs being investigated are unable to address the many factors contributing to chronic disease, which one drug will likely never be able to do. He discusses his hope that new drugs are utilized, but as part of a multimodal program that addresses all of the underlying factors of the disease state.

Until a new, beneficial drug is approved, the best bet for those suffering or at risk of Alzheimer’s disease is to immediately begin implementing the Bredesen Protocol, which is the only program proven to prevent and reverse cognitive decline.

To view the full interview, click here.

References:

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/biogen-halts-studies-of-closely-watched-alzheimers-drug-a-blow-to-hopes-for-new-treatment
  2. Kumar, D. K., Eimer, W. A., Tanzi, R. E., & Moir, R. D. (2016). Alzheimer’s disease: the potential therapeutic role of the natural antibiotic amyloid-β peptide. Neurodegenerative disease management, 6(5), 345–348.
  3. Kumar, D. K., et al. (2016). Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease. Science translational medicine, 8(340), 340ra72.